Monday, January 16, 2006

SFCKAL info and tips (PWYC, yardage, cast on advice, new blogs)

(There will be a new Ingeborg photo tomorrow. I should have time today to finish the first 40 row pattern repeat, so it will be a milestone photo! Or a 5-inch-stone photo, if I want to be precise about these things. If you don't care about the Sweaters From Camp KAL, you might want to skip reading the rest of the post. But there is technique info. there that may be of general interest, including advice straight from Meg Swansen, so skip at your own risk. ;-)

1. I've mostly updated the participant and project list in the sidebar. I actually have a couple of new things to change/add already. But if you gave me your name/blog address/project choice before this past weekend, and don't see your name or updated info. there, please let me know. I'm getting updates via comments, direct email, and through the Yahoo group. I left things a bit longer than ideal between updates, and am afraid I missed something between all those channels of communication. If you haven't contacted me yet about joining, but are interested in doing so, please do! The easiest way for me to deal with this incoming information is if you directly email me at bowerbirdknits AT gmail DOT com.

2. Last week, I asked a question about the "purl when you can" or "PWYC" technique on the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides (or KBTH) email list. (A great mailing list for people interested in traditional arans, fair isle, lace, or modern variations thereof.) This technique is described in the techniques section of Sweaters From Camp. Basically, it's a technique that allows you to start the body of a garment without doing a hem or ribbing, yet avoiding the curling you'd ordinarily get if you did that. You do occasional purl stitches instead of knit stitches (when the color you're knitting into is the same as the color you're currently knitting with), which is enough to prevent the fabric from curling. This is the technique used for the bottom of the sweater I'm knitting, and I've been trying to decide whether I want to use it, or to add a hem or corrugated ribbing instead.

My question was about how long you need to do this to really prevent curling. It's not specified in the book, and while I assumed it wasn't for the entire garment, I wasn't sure how effective the technique is, and whether I'd have to do it for longer than I'd do ribbing. To my delight, Meg Swansen answered the questions! (Meg Swansen is the woman who put Sweaters From Camp together, and who originated the technique. How cool is that!) She said that she's been experimenting with making the PWYC section shorter. She's knit a jacket where she only used the technique for 4 rows, and found that sufficient, with blocking. Wow! She also mentioned that she purls either the background or motif stitches - whichever has fewer opportunities to PWYC. I think this is mentioned in the book, but I'm not sure.

So the basic lesson is that you really only need to do a minimal amount of purling to make this technique work. This is good because it sounds like it will slow down my knitting a bit, and also because the purls will change the fabric a bit. Not only will they add some texture, but they might change the gauge of the fabric a small amount. She uses a smaller needle for the rows in which she uses the technique because she purls looser than she knits. I also purl more loosely than I knit, so I'll probably do the same. It will depend on what happens when I swatch.

More advice from Meg is to use the German Twisted Cast On to help prevent curling, as well as to work a row of solid purl in the cast on color before jumping into the colorwork pattern. That purl row will also fight curling, and will prevent floats from the first row of the colorwork from dipping down below the hemline. I also advise trying out the German Twisted Cast On because it's slightly more elastic than the long tail cast on. There are instructions for it in the techniques section of Sweaters From Camp. I actually found it a bit difficult to figure out exactly what to do for this cast on the first few times I tried it. (It turned out I was doing it correctly, but just doubting that I was.) I found using the instructions in the book combined with looking at a few other online resources helped me be sure I was doing it correctly. It's barely more work than the long tail cast on, and is now my default cast on. Good stuff!

2. Since I'm on the topic of casting on, I must share some wonderful advice that Janine posted in her blog a little while ago. (I have a nagging feeling I've mentioned this before, but even if I did, it won't hurt to talk about it again.) Directly from the post I linked to, "for every 100 stitches you cast on using long-tail cast on at a standard Shetland jumperweight gauge you need 70" of yarn." Anything that makes casting on hundreds of stitches even a tiny bit less painful is wonderful. Thanks, Janine!

3. I realized this weekend that I don't think I've discussed the issue of yardage. I feel a bit bad about this, because it's really important. But hopefully any of you who have ordered your yarn have also noticed the notes on both the Schoolhouse Press and J&S websites that discuss the change in weight and yardage of the jumperweight yarn skeins. When Sweaters From Camp was published, J&S jumper weight came in 1 oz. skeins, that had about 150 yards. The yarn now comes in 25 gram skeins (a little less than an ounce), with about 130 yards. So make sure you're getting enough balls when you order. (My gut feeling is that you should mostly worry about buying extra if it's for a color that uses several balls, but not worry if the pattern only calls for one ball of a color. But I don't know this for sure.)

4. Related to the above, some time ago Janine mentioned that it may not be such a huge deal to use yarn from two different dye lots in a fair isle. She said that J&S dye lots don't differ much from each other, and that because of the use of many colors, differences may not be noticeable, anyway. I haven't tested this myself, but I do trust Janine. So if you're feeling strapped for cash, and aren't sure you should order extra in a color or two, you'll probably be safe not, and getting it later if necessary. Do keep in mind, though, that Schoolhouse Press will refund unused balls of yarn. Also, since they published the book, they might have a good idea about how much yarn you really need for the patterns in the book, and whether you'd need to order extra of a color or not.

5. I'm not going to do project updates yet, but some knitters have started swatching, and other fun stuff. So check out the blogs in the sidebar. A bunch of participants have very new blogs, created for this knitalong and/or other knitalongs. Some of these knitters are very accomplished and experienced knitters, even though they're new to blogging. So if you're looking for a few new blogs to read, you might find something good there.

As usual, I'm sure I've left out incredibly important information that I wanted to share. If there's anything you have a question about, please leave me a comment, send me an email, or post to the Yahoo group.


Blogger savannahchik said...

I'm not in the KAL but that was an incredibly useful post. Thanks so much!

1/16/2006 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use the PWYC method a lot. To counteract the potential to curl, I cast on using regular long-tail cast on and then I do the next row in the same color in K1P1 rib. This is nearly invisible and helps a lot in my opinion. As I am wont to say, if you are looking that closely you'd better be trying to put $10 in my garter belt!

1/16/2006 10:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home